Fiscal Cliff

White House to Defer to Congress for Sequestration Plan

On how to avert it, of course, not how to implement it

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Top White House officials said Friday they would defer to Congress on how best to avert $85 billion in spending cuts set to begin in March, but they called on political leaders to reach an agreement soon to prevent major cutbacks in government services.

The deference would represent a new approach for the White House, which has played a lead role in almost all of the Washington budget battles in the past two years, often engaging in closed-door talks that fell apart.

Administration officials could still get roped into budget negotiations later this month if the impasse persists, but giving Congress space to negotiate likely means President Barack Obama won't offer its own proposal as part of next week's State of the Union speech.